|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
October 8, 2018
Incheon, South Korea
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody. Good afternoon. We are at the 2018 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Course. It's my pleasure to introduce to you a panel of 2018 season winners. To my left I have Seon Woo Bae, who is a four-time KLPGA winner. She is a two-time major winner, and with her win yesterday at the HITE JINRO Championship, she is now second on the Money List for the KLPGA.
Next to her is Minjee Lee, who is the LPGA Volvik Championship winner and represented Team Australia in last week's UL International Crown competition.
Next to Minjee is Sung Hyun Park. She is a four-time winner on the LPGA this year, including last week's UL International Crown, where she represented team Korea.
Next to Sung Hyun is Ariya Jutanugarn, also a multi winner on the LPGA Tour this year, including majors, U.S. Women's Open, conducted by the USGA, and helped Team Thailand to a successful finish at last week's UL International Crown.
And last but not least, we have Jin-Young Ko, who was the ISBS Australian Women's Open champion and also the Hana Bank defending champion of last year's event.
Minjee and Ariya, quick turnaround coming into this week. How are you guys feeling, and what was it like being out there playing in front of the Korean crowds and representing your flag?
MINJEE LEE: Well, Team Australia didn't make the singles, so I had a bit of a rest yesterday afternoon, so I'm feeling pretty good. I'm pretty fresh. I'm taking today off, as well. I'll be ready for this week.
Yeah, I mean, we had a great week playing in front of the Korean crowds. Obviously a lot of the people watching the Korean team, but yeah, I had a lot of my fans out there, as well, so it was really fun.
THE MODERATOR: Ariya, what was it like playing last week and how are you feeling coming into this week?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: It was a huge honor for me to be representing Thailand. We had so much fun. Last week was amazing for us. Like it's unbelievable how the crowd come out and support all the Korean players and all the players. It's amazing for me, and I get a lot more confidence like from last week because I've been working on some short game, and I feel like it's getting better.
THE MODERATOR: Sung Hyun, there was such a huge buildup before the UL International Crown to be able to perform in front of your home crowd representing for Team Korea. Do you feel a little bit relieved, and how are you feeling coming into this week?
SUNG HYUN PARK: So as I did mention earlier, as we were preparing for the International Crown, I did feel a lot of pressure, but the fans were out there supporting us, so I think that was what drove team Korea to victory. And now that it's all over, I feel a great sense of relief, and looking back last week, I think we had a lot of fun.
As for the event this week, it's obviously my sponsor's tournament, and I'm really feeling good. I feel like I'm in good form, so hopefully I will do good this week.
THE MODERATOR: Seon Woo, congratulations on your major victory yesterday. That is so huge for you, your second win for the 2018 season. What does that victory mean for you? How significant was it, and what does that do for your confidence going into this week at Hana Bank Championship?
SEON WOO BAE: Yesterday's win was a dream come true. I think I needed a major win, and so having won a major in two years was actually a dream come true, and it was all the more meaningful because the HITE JINRO Championship is such a historic event here in Korea. As for the KEB Hana Bank Championship, I actually took part in the past four years, and I did not do so well, but I feel like I'm on a winning streak, and if I keep up this upward momentum, I think I can have fun and do well out there this week, so I'm looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to introduce you to Brooke Henderson, who is a two-time winner on the 2018 LPGA Tour. Brooke, your first question for you is, I mean, you know what it's like to win on home soil. We were just talking about how huge it was for Sung Hyun to win for team Korea here in Korea. Have you been able to really let that sink in, and how is your game shaping up for this week?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Well, first, congratulations for yesterday. That was pretty exciting to watch that. You know, winning on home soil for me in Canada, it was amazing, something that I thought about since I was a little girl, and to finally be able to do it was really incredible. I'm just really excited to be back here in Korea. I had a really good finish last year, T8, I believe, so hopefully I'll go out and make a lot of birdies and just kind of see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: Jin-Young, last but not least, you are the defending champion of this event, an event that really started your rookie success on the LPGA Tour. Can you take us back to your win and what memories you have to share, and what are you looking forward to this week?
JIN-YOUNG KO: Last year was obviously an invaluable year because I was given the opportunity to join the LPGA Tour by winning this event, and what is especially memorable from last year was that I played with Sung Hyun and In Gee in the last round, so that is really memorable. And obviously there was pressure for me because I am defending champion, but I've prepared well, and hopefully I'll be able to defend the title this year.
Q. Jin-Young Ko and Sung Hyun Park, watching the Korean crowds yesterday, I'm just curious for these two what they most like about having their own fan clubs, and then what might be the biggest challenges of that, of having people so intensely interested in that. And then just a follow-up, actually Brooke, I don't think she has a fan club, but of all players outside of Korea, she could probably most understand what it's like to have that much support, and I was just wondering if Brooke can answer that, too, the upside to having such intense interest and then the challenge of it.
SUNG HYUN PARK: I have to say that there are no challenges from my side on having fan clubs and having their support. Their support gives us enormous strength and encouragement, and so I'm very, very happy.
JIN-YOUNG KO: So of course I've never asked anybody to form a fan club for me, but somehow I have a fan club, and when I'm in Korea and I play in Korea, they come out to the field, up to the course, and they encourage me. And sometimes after a win, I might have dinner with some of them or we might have a small party.
And so I think they're really a source of great strength, especially when I'm feeling down, and they provide a lot of support. And I think really they provide the foundation for me to grow as a golfer.
BROOKE HENDERSON: I would say that sometimes there maybe is that little bit of added pressure, but it's also very exciting to know that they're with you through the good and the bad, and I feel that support from Canadians very strongly, and I feel like when you get on a run like I did in Canada this year, when things are really good and you're making a lot of birdies, you can kind of run off their adrenaline and kind of just go with them in the excitement. So for me it's really fun, and I just am really grateful to have those people supporting me all the time.
Q. Ariya, you said you'd been working on your short game. Those of us who watched you yesterday in the playoff very quickly with that chip-in for eagle would think there's nothing wrong with it. What have you been doing with your short game, and why did you think you needed to address it?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Actually that shot I'm pretty lucky that I make eagle. You know, I felt like I've struggled with my chipping for a few months but not like that kind of shot. It's just always some spot that I want to have like spin, like 10 yards and have it spin, and I can't really do it. But I feel like there's nothing wrong with my mechanics, I think it's just in my head, sometimes just worried or scared, so I've been working on that, just don't think about the outcome and stick with my process. It's pretty tough, but I'm still working on that.
Q. Sung Hyun, I understand you have a clothing line with BeanPole. Can you describe your sense of style and then how much input you have in what your clothes look like?
SUNG HYUN PARK: I launched the line for the first time this year through BeanPole, and so before the launch, I talked with the people at BeanPole and gave them and talked about with them the overall direction or the overall look that we were going for. But after that they took over, and BeanPole are taking into consideration my overall image. They came out with the specific clothing. So far I really love what they're doing. Yeah, so far I love what they're doing, and the response has also been quite good.
Q. Can you describe your sense of style?
SUNG HYUN PARK: I think I can describe it as quite simple, so I don't wear skirts, I don't wear shorts. So I think BeanPole, they are doing a lot, making a lot of efforts to cover for my sense of style, which can be exceedingly simple, but yeah, it's working so far.
Q. Ariya, you and Sung Hyun are in a race for everything this year. What was it like yesterday going head-to-head? And kind of describe the atmosphere and maybe the relationship you two have inside the ropes and what that's like.
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Actually to me yesterday, I wasn't nervous. I never see that much people before. I haven't talked to her much before, but yesterday she talked to me a lot actually. Yeah, after her tee shot she'd come and talk to me and I feel great. She's very nice, and I never know that before. Still like yesterday, I feel like actually she's very nice and we have so much fun together. I mean, I have really good game yesterday, and of course I think she has played amazing shots, and I'm like, wow, I feel like she's just going to win by a lot because I felt like she made everything. She's so good.
Q. You've played together in stroke play, though, before, right? So was it that you talked more because it was match play do you think? Maybe that's a question for Sung Hyun.
SUNG HYUN PARK: I don't know. When we are on the course for our stroke play match, we do talk, but I think that perhaps yesterday with all the crowd and the excitement, we were also a bit excited, so we talked a little bit more. Ariya, looking at the crowd, said to me that all those people out there are your fans, and I told her, no, half of them are my fans and half of them are your fans, so we had a conversation going.
Q. It was slightly mentioned in a previous question, and this is a question for Sung Hyun Park and Ariya. When you see each other play, what do you want to take away from each other's game, or any impressions? And the second question is this week, again, I'm sure there's going to be a large crowd that are going to want to see Ariya and Sung Hyun play, so what do you want for yourselves from this event?
SUNG HYUN PARK: I think with any player with any tournament, you're going to see their strengths and their weaknesses, but yesterday I couldn't really see any weakness from Ariya. She's a known long hitter, so I knew that I could expect that from her, but her short game yesterday was phenomenal, so just playing with her yesterday, I learned a lot, and I think that's why we had a lot of fun out there.
And this week, there is, of course, definitely pressure, but I think this is one of many tournaments and many events that will come, and I think that the sort of kind of healthy competition will help us both grow.
Q. What would you like to take away from playing with someone like Sung Hyun?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: I feel like I got inspired from her a lot. She hit driver like so good. When I saw her hit driver, I feel like I want to hit like her. She hits really straight and really long. I feel the same. I feel like I don't see anything like weak from her game at all.
Q. This is a follow-up question to Sung Hyun Park and Ariya. You're neck-and-neck in a lot of factors in golf, and so you're No. 1 and No. 2, and there's a lot of this kind of media or people outside of the game who are trying to put you in competition against one another. Do you feel that sense of competition? And I feel that sometimes that kind of competition is healthy for you to grow as a player. What do you think about that, and with the tee shots, who do you think shoots further?
SUNG HYUN PARK: I think that sort of idea of pitting me against Ariya is something that the people who watch the game do, and it's more entertaining for them when they pit one player against another. I think for myself, and I'm sure for Ariya, as well, we just focus on our game.
As for the tee shot and how far we can shoot, I think that definitely Ariya would shoot further than I would because she uses a 3-wood, and she can still hit further than me.
Q. Ariya, what do you think about the rivalry that a lot of people say that you guys would have, and who shoots further from the tee?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: She says I hit fart than her, but I think my driver is shorter than me 3-wood, so I didn't hit that long.
Q. Now we've had the mutual admiration chat between the two of them, wouldn't it be an idea to ask the other players what they think about who hits the longest, and is there anybody else on the Tour that the players see coming up, especially in Korea, who's going to be in their sort of mold?
JIN-YOUNG KO: So I've never played with Sung Hyun or Ariya, but I think that they're all long hitters, so they definitely hit longer than I do. If you look at the KLPGA right now, we have a really large field, and we have a lot of strong players, so I think that there are definitely a couple of KLPGA players that we need to watch out for, and namely would be Lee Jeong Eun6 and also Choi Hye Jin.
SEON WOO BAE: Sung Hyun and Ariya are both long hitters, so I think that itself would answer that question. As for the second part of the question, I feel that with this event, we are talking about like world class players, so I think everybody has an equal chance of winning this event.
Q. Seon Woo, you have two wins in 2016, and I think with the win last week you have two wins in 2018, and I think you were doing better on the par-5s in 2018 compared to 2017. Did you make any changes to your swing, your form or even mentally? Did you bring any changes to your game, and how have you prepared for this week?
SEON WOO BAE: I think in the past with the par-5s, I tried to lay up and then tried to aim for the hole, but having played on the Tour for some time and watching the other players, I feel now it's a better strategy to try to make the green on two and then work my way from there. So I think the approach I take to the par-5 holes have changed, and that's why I'm doing better with the par-5 holes.
And I think overall generally because of my experience, I'm now a more mature player, and I've prepared very hard for this event.
Q. I just wanted to ask how team Korea celebrated last night, and are you tired?
SUNG HYUN PARK: We actually did not have time to celebrate yesterday together as a team. I actually went to bed pretty early yesterday, so I am a little bit tired today, but actually I'm feeling better than I expected.
Q. This is a question for all the players. Brooke mentioned how you would like to do better than your previous records at this competition. This is a question for all of you. This course, it isn't that easy or simple, so what will it take for you to win at this course?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, here I think it's extremely important to have your ball-striking, to hit fairways, because the rough is very long and tough to get out of. And then especially around the greens, there's a lot of different slopes and different sections of the greens, so I think it's really important to try to hit it to the right part and to give yourself lots of birdie opportunities because there are going to be bogeys on this course, so try to compensate that with a lot of birdies.
I feel like last year I made a big improvement from my 2016 performance, and so I'm looking forward to 2018, and hopefully my ball-striking is good.
SEON WOO BAE: This is a links course, obviously, so we have to take that into consideration, and I think the greens are firm, so how you approach, how you tackle the green I think will be key, and then of course another variable are the winds because this is an area that can get quite windy.
MINJEE LEE: I haven't been out obviously today, but as I remember from the previous years, obviously the rough is pretty thick here. The greens are always in great condition. Like Brooke said, I definitely think it's a second-shot golf course. You would really want to be on with your irons this week, and obviously if your putter is hot, you're going to have a good week, so yeah.
SUNG HYUN PARK: So with this course, I always thought that the par-5s were shorter, but if you look at my past performance, I haven't done very well on the par-5s in this course. That's something I really want to work on.
So this year I'm going to change my strategy a bit and hopefully go for more birdies and eagles on the par-5 holes.
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: I haven't seen the course this year yet, but I know from last year, I think the rough is pretty long and the greens are really tough. There is really a challenge on the greens because it's pretty hard to hold -- it's hard to have chances for birdie.
JIN-YOUNG KO: So with this course, if you miss the green, the chances of you getting a bogey is higher. So I think with the par-5, the longer par-5 holes, it's absolutely crucial to get as many birdies on those holes, and even with the par-4 holes, if you miss the greens, there is the likelihood of a bogey is higher. So I think as mentioned by Minjee earlier, getting your iron shots in good conditions will be crucial.
Q. Jin-Young, the fact that you can win this tournament and gain LPGA membership, how much more important does that make this event for a Korean player, and just where would you rank the importance of this event to a Korean woman?
JIN-YOUNG KO: So I think there are two routes to go to the LPGA, so the first route is what Sung Hyun took, so you can either come in the top 5 of the Money List of the KLPGA, that's not easy, or you can win this competition. So given that, I think that for the Korean golfers out there who wish to go to the LPGA, it would mean more or have more significance than a major event of the KLPGA.
But at the same time, I think that's why some Korean golfers who wish to go to the LPGA might feel a little bit more pressure when they take part in this event.
Q. I have one question each for Seon Woo Bae and Jin-Young Ko. How long have you dreamt of getting to the LPGA Tour? And the second question is if you were to win this event, would you immediately take advantage of your ticket to go to the LPGA next season? That's the question for Seon Woo Bae. And what kind of advice would you give to Seon Woo Bae if she were to win?
SEON WOO BAE: Obviously having seen Seri Pak do so well at the LPGA Tour, I think for any of us who started golf from the beginning, the LPGA Tour is kind of the ultimate dream. And so if I were given that opportunity by winning, I'd say I definitely would have to talk a lot with Jin-Young because I understand that last year after a win she really did a lot of soul searching to decide to go to the LPGA. So if I win, I think I would have to sit down and have a lot chat with Jin-Young Ko.
JIN-YOUNG KO: Of course if Bae were to win I would congratulate her, and like she mentioned, after my win here last year I did a lot of soul searching and we thought it through very carefully as to whether I would go to the LPGA, and it took a lot of thinking to reach that decision. One of the things that I kind of considered when I made that decision was that I would have to live away from home and live away from my parents, so of course if she were to win, I would want her to join the Tour, but I would give her advice on a lot of the logistical things that she might have to take into consideration. For instance, she would have to do a lot of things alone, by herself. There are a lot of plane rides, and she has to pack and unpack, and most of these things she would have to do alone. So that's where I would definitely give her advice.
Q. Obviously for all Koreans, Seri Pak, the U.S. Open, her taking off her socks and shoes is such a symbolic moment, and it has been kind of similarly recreated by you at the International Crown, and also with you, Sung Hyun, at the PGA Championship. Of course you didn't take off your shoes, but having that image in your mind, what does that kind of scene represent to you? What kind of meaning does it have? And in similar situations, when you're caught in a similar situation, what goes through your mind?
SUNG HYUN PARK: I was not able to see what So Yeon did yesterday, but I think that any golfer in that situation would do that, but especially for the junior golfers or the young golfers that are really just starting out, I think that kind of scene or that kind of moment really shows the kind of passion and enthusiasm that Korean women golfers have for the game, and that would make them want to work harder.
As for myself, when I was in that similar situation, I didn't really draw the similarities of the situation between that famous shot and myself. But if I were to watch the game again and see myself in a similar situation doing something similar, I would think that it really -- I would be able to be reminded of how much enthusiasm and affection I have for this game.
Q. My question goes to Brooke and Ariya. The Korean players on the LPGA, perhaps not this season but in the past, they've done quite well. Their winning rate was about 40 to 50 percent. Have you or do you know anybody who's been affected by the Korean players? Let me give you an example. For instance, have you seen or have you become curious about a certain technique because a Korean golfer does it, or have you or do you know anybody who exponentially increased their practice golf because the Korean golfers practice a lot, anything like that? What kind of impact do you think Korean golfers have?
BROOKE HENDERSON: There's definitely been a huge influence of Korean golfers in the women's game, and they all seem to be very talented. I do believe that they work very hard. I'm not sure if I can really specifically think of somebody that has learned a lot from them, but I think just overall the whole Tour has had to get better to be able to compete. I feel like even Mae from Thailand and Minjee from Australia, I feel like the best players are coming out and they're just getting better every year, and I feel like the Tour has to grow with them, and it just happens to be that there's tons of Korean players that are very good and very talented that the rest of the world has to keep up with.
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: When you look at the Tour, I feel like all the great players are Korean, but also I get inspired from other players because they're really competitive now. They really work so hard to me, and when I see Inbee, Sung Hyun and Seri, like it's amazing.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports